Monday, July 20, 2015

strata with spicy Italian sausage, Gruyere, spinach, and shallots



My history with stratas go way back to my wedding day. I chose it as one of the entrees served at our brunch reception at the charming Cedar Creek Inn. 

I love that I can bake such a delicious dish that's filled with happy memories ~  for my family. 

Have you ever eaten a strata? 

They're so delicious . . . and remind me so much of a savory bread pudding, of sorts. 




The base of a strata is similar to that of bread pudding . . . bread, eggs, milk, and cream.

The big difference between the two are that the ingredients in bread pudding are typically all combined into one big bowl and then poured into a dish and then baked. A strata, on the other hand, is typically a layering of ingredients, so that you have a perfect distribution (and layering) of savory ingredients. 




Strata, like bread pudding, is incredibly versatile. That's another reason why I enjoy them so much. And . . . you can serve them any time of day. 

They're great for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner . . . and if you don't like my combination of ingredients - you could add your own. 

In the Fall, I love adding spicy Italian sausage, roasted butternut squash, Gruyere, and thyme . . . It's amazing!




Since I had Italian sausage left over from our Fourth of July celebration and Gruyere cheese, I thought I would make an Italian version of this dish over the weekend. 

I added spinach and caramelized shallots for added color and flavor . . . and then topped it with lots of fresh herbs from our garden. 




The spicy Italian sausage adds a warm heat  . . . the Gruyere cheese adds creaminess . . . and the caramelized shallots add a tender sweetness. Such a great combination . . . Yum! 




I think the fastest way to make this dish is by preparing the ingredients first . . . brown the sausage, grate the cheese, saute and shallots, and squeeze all the moisture out of the spinach.  

Put all the 'layering ingredients' into separate bowls and set aside. Then prepare the bread/egg/milk/cream mixture and set aside. I find it quicker to assemble this dish when I have an assembly line in front of me. 

Take your time when layering so that you ensure that every bite has a little sausage, shallot, spinach, cheese, and herbs . . .  making every single bite delicious.




Since we have an abundance of garden tomatoes, I served them alongside our strata; but I also love to serve a simple salad with a creamy tarragon dressing . . . making it perfect for dinner. 

It might seem like a lot of work, but it's worth the effort! 




Ingredients
6 cups cubed day-old French bread, with crust
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
3/4 pound Spicy Italian Sausage
2 large shallots, halved and thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
one 10-ounce bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
10 large eggs
2 cups grated aged Gruyere cheese
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
fresh basil, chopped
fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped




Preparation
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Put the bread on a baking sheet and toast until lightly golden brown on both sides, about 10 minutes. Remove and let cool. Cut into 3/4-inch cubes. Set aside.

Combine the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat and cook until it begins to shimmer. Add the shallots, toss to coat in the butter, and then add the salt and pepper. Cook the shallots, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.


 

Place a small amount of cooking oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Remove sausage casing. Crumble sausage into the pan and allow to cook until the meat browns and there is no pink. Drain the meat into a strainer to eliminate grease and oil. Pat dry with a paper towel to further remove grease. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, 1/2 cup cheese, milk, heavy cream, mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg. Add the bread cubes and gently combine. Set aside for 20 minutes.


 

Butter a 9 by 13-inch decorative baking dish. Pour 1/2 of the egg/milk/bread mixture in the dish, and then sprinkle 1 cup cheese, half of the spinach, onions, and sausage on top of the mixture.

Add the other half of the egg/milk/bread mixture on top, and then evenly sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese, spinach, onions and sausage. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake the strata uncovered until the mixture has puffed up slightly, is golden brown on top and doesn't shimmy with uncooked custard when you shake the pan, about 1 hour. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheese over the top during the last 10 minutes of baking. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. 

Sprinkle a handful of fresh parsley and basil on top of the strata before serving. Enjoy!







LET'S STAY in touch!





36 comments:

  1. This 'sounds like one of those recipes that, when you taste it, you just close your eyes and say hmmmmmmmm, good. Can't wait to try it and thanks for sharing the recipe.

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  2. Sounds wonderful! I'll try this when our kids come down and spend the night. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. This line will stay with me for a long time. "I love that I can bake such a delicious dish that's filled with happy memories ~ for my family". So will this recipe.

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  4. WOW, it looks soooo incredibly delicious!!! I will have to try your recipe....soon!
    ~Des

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  5. I have never tried making a strata before, and your recipe looks divine. The fall ingredients seem like a winning combination too. Putting this on my next meal list :)

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  6. No I have never made or eaten a strata before, but you havn't taken long to convince me. I think this will be a recipe on the list for the weekend!

    Thanks for sharing at Marvelous Monday on Smart Party Planning :-)

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  7. This looks scrumptious Suzanne. Thanks for sharing. Pinned!

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  8. Wow, that looks sooo good! I'm going to have to put it on the menu for this week!

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  9. Amazing, simply amazing! Love the combination, the photography and the recipe!
    Cathy

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  10. This is my favorite type of recipe, and your ingredient combo sounds perfect to me, this is going on my to do list asap! Thanks Suzanne!
    Jenna

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  11. Your Strada caught my eye on Wonderful Wednesday Blog hop. I had to feature it on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/recipesforourdailybread

    Blessings,
    Diane Roark

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  12. Oh my goodness this looks delicious. You know I will be featuring delicious dish on my Facebook page tomorrow. I am also set to feature your FB page and blog as well. Look for it on Thursday. At 9;15 every day I feature an outstanding blog I feel my readers would enjoy. I love yours and I can't wait to share.
    Blessings,
    Shari

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  13. OMG that looks so bleeping good! Pinning this!

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  14. Yum! I can taste it in my mind. :)
    Thanks so much for sharing your strata recipe with us at Project Inspire{d}!
    Pinned!

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  15. Looks wonderful, but I've never had Strata. After seeing this, I'm gonna have to try it!

    Pinning it!
    Thanks for sharing.

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  16. This dish looks delicious Suzanne, I can imagine it's delicious! This has been the most viewed recipe on Sweet and Savoury Sunday, stop by, grab a button and link up again with us this week. Laura@Baking in Pyjamas

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  17. Suzanne you are making me so hungry. You even make an iron skillet look glamourous. I pinned for a someday brunch. Now over to see what your did with tarragon.

    Madonna
    MakeMineLemon

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  18. Ok, can I come live with you, or at least move in next door! LOOKS AMAZING...YUM, YUM!
    Thanks so much for sharing at AMAZE ME MONDAY...
    Blessings,
    Cindy

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  19. Can't say that I have ever had strata.... But you make it look delicious with the fresh herbs and the yummy cheese.... I guess I will have to try making one! Thanks for sharing, friend!! :)
    xox, Crystelle
    CrystelleBoutique

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  20. Looks delicious... great images and recipe!

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  21. This looks delicious Suzanne. Pinned!

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  22. Looks and sounds so good! I love that it is in a cast iron skillet! Thanks for sharing on the Thursday Blog Hop!

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  23. Wow, this sounds so good. I have only made a Strata one time, but this just might be my reason to make more.
    Bev

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  24. I pinned this delicious looking recipe for later. Thank you.

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  25. Oh boy, does this look good! My family would just devour this! :)

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  26. This looks so delicious...a great combination of rich flavors! Thanks for sharing your recipe!

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  27. Visiting from #SayGdayParty. I've pinned this--it looks incredible and spinach is one of my favorite things!

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  28. This looks wonderful! Definitely going to have to try it!

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  29. Congratulations!! Your recipe has been featured at Tickle My Tastebuds on my blog, Lori’s Culinary Creations. Hop on over and grab a feature button and link up your latest culinary creations. Congrats again.
    Link- http://bit.ly/1nY3oYQ
    Lori

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  30. This is marvelous, my daughter would love this! I appreciate you sharing with Home and Garden Thursday,
    Kathy

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  31. Oh gosh this looks so amazing! I just have to step away from the white bread. I think rye would be a better option for me. I wonder how that would taste. Thanks for linking at #stoptheyuck and I hope to see you again this week. Chrystal @ YUM eating

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  32. I've never made a strata but I think you've convinced me. This looks fantastic!! Visiting from #FoodieFridays.

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  33. this looks absolutely amazing! and your pictures are just fabulous! can not wait to try this out next brunch. happy to have found you via foodie friday! looking forward to connecting :)

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  34. Mmmm, this looks and sounds delicious. I might be trying a variation this week - I'd be happy to devour it as is but I'll have to swap a few things for my mum who is a little fussier!

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  35. Yum, this looks delicious. This has been the most viewed link on Sweet and Savoury Sunday. Stop by, grab a button and link up again with us this week. Have a great weekend Suzanne :)

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  36. You just said the magic words!! Italian. Sausage. Cheese!! That opened the sealed door to my heart and tummy!! Of course my tummy is pretty easy to please -- as long as it tastes good and this looks like it would be outstanding. I've got to admit breakfast or brunch foods are some of my favorites and I'd eat eggs all the time. I can't wait to make this. I've already pinned it and now I'm printing out the recipe. Thank you for sharing and your sweet memory. Big Hugs!!

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